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Archive for May 14, 2012

Partial — and Annular — Eclipse of the Sun


People with clear skies across most of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will experience a partial eclipse of the Sun late this Sunday afternoon (May 20, 2012). Only those near the Eastern Seaboard will miss out.

And, if you happen to be in a swath of land running from Northern California to Texas, you’ll also get a very special kind of partial eclipse: an annular eclipse, in which the rim of the Sun becomes a brilliant ring completely encircling the black silhouette of the Moon.

The Sun will be moving down the afternoon sky when a dark dent begins to intrude into one edge. The dent will deepen, eventually turning the Sun into a fat crescent — or, for western half of the continent, a thin crescent. The dent is the silhouette of the new Moon traveling along its monthly orbit around the Earth.

Most Westerners can see the entire eclipse from beginning to end before sunset. Farther east, sunset puts an end to the show while the eclipse is still in progress — affording weird and spectacular sunset scenes just above the west-northwest horizon. “This is going to be a great photo opportunity,” suggests Robert Naeye, editor in chief of Sky & Telescope magazine.

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/Partial-151-and-Annular-151-Eclipse-of-the-Sun-to-Sweep-North-America-Sunday-May-20th-150977245.html

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Oslo-physicists use 20 new satellites to forecast space weather


The northern lights interfere with radio communications, GPS navigation and satellite communications. Researchers are now going to launch 20 satellites containing world class instruments from the University of Oslo to find out why.

Satellites are becoming increasingly important in communications and navigation. This makes us more vulnerable to the northern lights, especially within offshore and aviation. In a worst case scenario an aircraft can lose contact with its surroundings. Oil tankers can struggle with precise navigation.

In order to more precisely predict when radio communications and navigation will fail, researchers require more information about what happens when violent solar winds hit the Earth and produce the northern lights.

The solar winds consist of charged particles and produce powerful turbulence in the ionosphere, which consists of plasma clouds with electrical particles at an altitude of 80 to 500 km. The turbulence interferes with radio signals. Sometimes they are reflected wrongly. On other occasions the signals are blocked altogether.

“In the northern regions GPS satellites lie low in the sky. This means the signals have to pass through the ionosphere. This reinforces the navigation problems,” says professor Jøran Moen of the Department of Physics at University of Oslo (UiO), Norway.

Full story: http://www.apollon.uio.no/english/articles/2012/spaceweather.html

AstroNews Is Coming Back Online


Okay, so it’s been awhile but I’ve got some help and we’re looking to get AstroNews back up ‘n running today…

…so I want to say a big thanks to James Smith and George Arnold for volunteering and being willing and able to post some of the stories for me.

Thanks guys, it’s very much appreciated!

Clear skies,

Richard

Categories: Site News